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Lawmaker Says New Outbreak Shows USDA, Poultry Industry Need to Act

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Federal officials have announced another salmonella outbreak linked to chicken, and at least one lawmaker is calling for action against the poultry industry because of it. Antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Infantis has sickened 92 people as of October 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the outbreak has been ongoing since January.

Immediately following the announcement, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLaura, D-CT, issued a statement reiterating a letter she and a college wrote five years ago, criticizing the CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for “their mismanaged investigation and lack of action in response to an antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella that contaminated chicken products across the country,” Food Safety News reported.

At that time, 634 were infected across 29 states. “DeLauro urged her fellow members of Congress to approve the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which would ban the use of medically important antibiotics in food animal production unless they are needed to treat actual livestock illnesses,” Food Safety News said. DeLauro sponsored the proposed act earlier in 2018.

Between 2009 and 2015 chicken was responsible for the most outbreak-associated illnesses in the U.S., and food testing through the years has shown that chicken is particularly prone to contamination with dangerous pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As today’s featured article shows, raw chicken, especially, is a notorious carrier of salmonella, as well as campylobacter, clostridium pefrigens and listeria. Salmonella contamination, however, is of particular concern, as its multidrug-resistant reports continue to rise.

Unfortunately, poultry is not the only food that can make you sick. Meats of all kinds are significant sources of drug-resistant bacteria, with factory farmed meats, whether poultry, pork or beef, having the highest levels of contamination.

In 2017 the CDC said 22 percent of antibiotic-resistant illness in humans is linked to consumption of contaminated foods, with tests showing ground beef from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is three times more likely to contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria than organic grass fed beef.

This really is no surprise, since overuse of antibiotics in livestock is the primary driver of antibiotic resistance, and CAFOs routinely use antibiotics, whereas organic grass fed standards do not permit their use. Most recently, an Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of food testing done by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015 reveals 83 percent of supermarket meats were contaminated with enterococcus faecalis, i.e., fecal bacteria, and a high percentage had antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

What this means is that, whether Rep. DeLaura’s bill will goes anywhere or not, you absolutely must take steps to protect yourself from this potential food travesty. Aside from avoiding bringing raw chicken into your home, you can also limit your risk of antibiotic-resistant disease by focusing on:

  • Infection prevention, with a focus on strengthening your immune system naturally
  • Limiting your own use of antibiotics to times when there is no other alternative
  • Purchasing only organic or biodynamic grass fed meats and animal products
  • Avoiding antibacterial household products
  • Using commonsense precautions in the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination when you are working with raw meats

One way to signal what you want is to contact your own legislators to join with DeLaura as she tries to push through her bill. And, try to shop local as much as possible, and obtain your meats from farmers who can tell you how their meats were raised and whether or not they used antibiotics with them.

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